The Vanishing – a poem

Slowly, love rises
Not from the  ashes of a fiery blaze
Nor the blood stained sword
of the conqueror
But rather, love can be observed
Dancing among the mysteries
Peeled from tablets of revelled
Left behind by a distant memory
Long washed by the tears of an
ebbing moon
As the withered tree mourns its
lover’s lost.

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Steps Towards a Revolutionary Demise: Part 1

Any credible appraisal of the 1979 Grenada coup d’etat would have to recognize that among some of the many atrocities committed by the People’s Revolutionary Government and Army would have to include the wholesale detention and torture of hundreds of its citizens, and that the Prime Minister was fully responsible.  For not only did he sign every person’s detention order, but that in the order he stipulated that each detainee was to be held for such time, in such place, under such conditions as he deemed necessary.  These were just a few in a string of many draconian terms and conditions his entire administration acquiesced.

Their four-and-a-half-year reign was marred by a dark cloud of fear and distrust among its people.  Indiscriminate harassment, false imprisonment and open intimidation became the order of the day, to say nothing about their atrocious human rights record.  One should no forget that it was under the Bishop’s administration that the constitution and the writ of habeas corpus were extricated and trampled.

During the time that Maurice Bishop was in power he held, on a per capita basis, more detainees in his prison and detention camps than any other country.  And whereas on one hand, he and his regime were spending most of their time travelling from country to country, spewing rhetorical venom, as they rail against their neighbor’s political, economic and human rights records.  They were, during that same period, filling up their jails with or otherwise suppressing their dissenters.

Between 1979-1983 Grenada had a population of about 100,000. During that same period, the amount of people detained at Fort Rupert, Fort Frederick, the prison and labor camps such as Hopeville and Calivigny exceeded 1000, about 1% of the population.  Most were held for having different political beliefs, others on suspicion of not supporting the revolution, its government, or any sub group of the PRG.  The remaining detainees were jailed for simply speaking out against the ills of the government or having had prior criminal convictions or held on trumped-up charges.  Maurice would say during some of his fiery speeches that if a person looks like, walks like or smells like a counter-revolutionary they should brought in so that they would be as he called it…”placed under heavy, heavy mannners”…code words for long detention and torture.

To be Continued…………….

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A Tribute to Teddy Victor

There comes a time within the commonwealth of any state when a son is born to take up the reins and struggle tirelessly for the good and welfare of his people. He does so without seeking any personal or financial gain. He is rational and knows how and when he must remove stumbling blocks, climb over obstacle courses, skirt adversaries, or make allies to realize his goals for the greater good of the many. A strong communal leader who is not afraid to be led. He lives a simple life surrounded by family, steeped in the belief that his destiny is to steadfastly advocate on behalf of his people.

My friend, Teddy Victor, was one such citizen.

Throughout his life, he was never afraid to speak out against the ills of the powers that be within the commonwealth of Grenada; be those socioeconomic, politico-economic, religious or moral ills. He held his ground on the principles of his belief, even though the consequences of his actions were at times harsh and long lasting. Though he was faced with many setbacks, he never allowed them to weaken his spirit or resolve.

Throughout his life, he learned not only how to forgive but, more importantly, how to counsel and comfort the forgiven. A clear example was his willingness to return to prison to visit and hold religious fellowship with most of the core perpetrators who had detained and imprisoned him for years without charge, never giving him a date for his release.

Whereas the pang of detention made many fellow detainees vengeful and bitter, of which I too was guilty, Teddy used his confinement to hone, shape and sharpen his philosophy on the deeper meaning of life, commitment to family, and loyalty to those around him. And as he broadened the scope of his spiritual relationship with his God, he became himself the central mass, to which most of us turned for guidance and counsel in times of stress or communal upheavals within the prison walls.

Now that he comes to the end of the journey, we can all look back with fondness and gratitude, knowing that our friend, Teddy, did all that he was called upon to do without wavering. No road was too long, tedious, or steep for him to climb, no bridge too narrow to cross. For at the end of every sojourn and on the other side of every bridge lie two views: the one behind us, of where we have been, and the one before us, of where we have yet to go.

We will miss you, old chap.

You will forever be my true friend,

James Bowen


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